Jamaica: The 10 day backpacking trip experience
Let me begin by saying I am very grateful for the opportunity to travel the world. This has been my plan since the age of 16. I loved a lot of things about Jamaica but I also hated a lot of things about Jamaica. The beaches, the water, the surroundings are a given. We traveled in October, the off season ( much cheaper ) and because there were so little travelers we were heckled for money at every stop. Restaurants upped meal prices, cabbies over charged and we let it happen. We were just so happy to be there. Had we known better, we would checked prices before hand and rode the Knutsford Express ( first class air conditioned motor coach) from day 1.
We stayed in Miami for 3 nights before the trip. Miami was a dream. Everything you picture, everything you expect it to be. Fun, crazy, loud, creative people, beaches, good food, good music, avocados the size of your face. We spent time in South Beach and followed Mr. Anthony Bourdain's itinerary. We hopped around from dive bar to Irish bar, to beach front bar in South Beach. The dives were the best of course. I will always remember the smell and ambiance of Miami and hope to visit again soon.
We boarded a rocky hour and half plane ride from Miami to Montego Bay. When we arrived at the airport we arrived in another world. Here we were bombarded with cabbies and basically kid napped and shoved into a van by the most aggressive one of the bunch. Hello to you too sir. The aggressive cabbie drove us the 2 hours to Negril for $100 and we arrived at sunset to Travelers resort along the 7 mile beach. The beach is one of the most beautiful in the world, clear waters and white sands.
We arrived at sunset, walked along the beach at nightfall. We walked along the 7 mile beach ( not recommended in the tour books due to various dangers). Along the beach in the middle of the night we dinned on Lobster Pizza and red stripes for about $60. The best meal we had in Jamaica though was a $1 "patty" or empanada sold to us by a sweet 100 year old man riding a bike through sand along the beach. He had meat, chicken and vegetarian. I chose the vegetarian patty and inside of it was a mixture of sweet sautéed greens. I still have dreams about this patty. There was lobster, there was fish, there were burgers, but this patty was amazing. When visiting the bigger cities we found out there are fast food restaurants dedicated to various flavored patties but the one we had was legit, probably home made by this sweet little man.
When planning the trek from Negril to Ocho Rios we discovered the Knutsford Express, a first class air conditioned motor coach a.k.a Fancy bus with WIFI and television for 50$ a destination! We jumped on this first chance we got and arrived in Ocho Rios,Jamaica a couple of hours later. The place we stayed at in Ocho rios was also a hotel for travelers. This place was a little run down and about $30 a night. The guy who managed the place, " the Shade master" as we referred to him was as sleazy as Saul Goodman. None of his stories added up and we were often expected to pay his bar tabs. When someone is driving you around Ochi in their own car, you don't ask too many questions or put up a fight. Lets go!
Ill be forever grateful to him for driving us up a rocky mountain to the Blue hole. This location made it worth it, changed everything. 25 foot waterfalls and magic that we jumped from, water so blue,so fresh I was tempted to drink it. In Ocho Rios we were brave enough to find a night market. At this night market we bought pure coconut oil and fruit. We stood out from the crowd, but they were welcoming. Locals are impressed when travelers leave the hotel and mingle bravely. At this night market a Rasta man uninvitedly held my face with his large hands and rubbed raw coconut oil on my cheeks for "good skin". Thanks?
The shade master drove us to the Knutsford express station and we took a bus ride from Ocho Rios to Kingston. He watched us closely until the very moment we drove away. Bye guy! The bus ride from Ochi to Kingston was magical and we drive through the actual Ferngully. Streams of green rope and wild flowers draped the curvy mountain sides. I was in awe. There was a calm I experienced on this bus ride. In Kingston, we were picked up by the owner of the B&B we were staying in . Neitas Nest is located in the blue hills of Jamaica and has the best views and the freshest air. This place was unlike anything we experienced the whole trip. No TV, no radio, no WIFI. Just you, your thoughts and the hills. Michelle Neita turned her beautiful home into a B&B. The white sheets and curtains make this place serene and we had honey in our coffee every morning. Michelle arranged a trip to trench town for us with a tour guide who picked us up from the B&B in her own car.
The tour guide took us to Mr. Bob Marley's house on trench town walk. The vibes here were powerful, the energy was thick. This was the only place in Jamaica I felt the need to take home a souvenir. Beaded bracelets for my friends and family. Michelle drove us to the airport and here we boarded a 6 person plane to Montego Bay towards the end of our stay.
In Montego Bay we met some characters, had the best jerk chicken and caved in and had Burger King. At this point we had been traveling for days and were beginning to get home sick. Theres only so many plantains one can eat! The Hotel bartender was a character trying to take our money. The cabbies over charged for a 2 mile cab ride. The guys we met traveling from LA has been ripped off and harassed in Jamaica. They were happy to have other americans in the hotel with them and the night before we left we all shared a bottle of Cuban Rum. Jamaica was beautiful, but for me its been checked off the list, on to a new destination next time.
We took 8 separate flights this vacation and oddly enough the roughest of them all was the plane arriving home to Tucson. Turbulent is an under statement. High winds, bad weather,rain, turbulent enough to make people on the plane scream. Its as if Tucson was punishing us, saying " don't leave me again!". Theres an amazing feeling when you're traveling home after a long trip. Theres an anxiousness, an excitement a feeling of calm and relief. Being home after nine days in Jamaica and 6 days in Miami feels amazing. There's no feeling like walking into your own home, your own space. This is my home,my safe space. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel the world as I always planned, but more grateful to have this home, this comfort, this love to come back to. My first chunk of traveling the world taught me that we live in the greatest country in the world. Merica’. No matter what happens, you will be okay. If something happens in Jamaica you're stranded, you're screwed. Enter paranoia. Jamaica is beautiful, No doubt but America is home.